If We Had the Chance to Do It All Again (We Do!)

By Kay Gardiner
April 3, 2018
The yarns in the MDK Shop are all rare, special, beautiful, magnifique!

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60 Comments
  • I think one of the most fun parts of the brackets was seeing how many of the designers I already knew and loved (and then seeing the ones I didn’t!)
    One friend in my knitting group recently bought her first pattern (Joji Locatelli’s 3 color cashmere cowl) and is having a great time knitting it. I know it won’t be her last. She makes and sells prints as a sideline, so she gets that artists and craftspeople deserve to be paid for their work, especially if you want to have a fund of clever and beautiful designs to work with. She had just never connected her making to the making of patterns, always looking for what was free and passing up anything that wasn’t.

  • Thank you so much for all the time and work you put into making MDK March Mayhem happen! Through the bracket I found two must-knit hats: Luminosity and Lineate. And knit them I did!

    • I loved seeing your Luminosity and Lineate and I’m sure the designers were deeeelighted. I’ve definitely got Lineate on my list of hats-to-knit, and it’s a short list because I look absolutely terrible in hats. #hatsareforotherpeople

  • I love the way you use your powers for good!

    • Ditto ! so much ❤️

    • Ditto ditto!

  • Designers do deserve a fair price for their work. Kudos to MDK for sharing these designs in a fun way! I am so happy to have found you through a knitting friend and also share you every chance I get.

  • That knitting bracket was so fun! Do we really have to wait for next March to do it all again? Until then, thank goodness for Ravelry, your daily emails and Saturday Snippets.

  • Dear Kay,

    I like your words so much. It was fun to vote for all the beautiful designs and some of my favorites didn’t make it but Isabell’s sweater is the greatest. As a knitter since 35 years I’m so glad about Ravelry and now Instagram to get knowledge of all the awesome designs. Based in Germany, I had problems to find interesting designs, magazines aren’t really good here and when looking through them I’m asking me if they ever heard of Ravelry or have the slightest glimpse what knitters want to knit. I’d rather pay 5€ for one good pattern than to buy a magazine with the same price with 30 patterns and none is worth to knit it. Thank Instagram I can share my knittings and love for yarn and see what other knitters have on their needles. As a test knitter I like to combine patterns of young female designers and some special yarns to help them getting more known. If you look on my Instagram account @knittingsharky you can see my #dubulasweater, a beautiful pattern by @tetebeche, I’ve knitted with a yarn by Rachel Atkinson @daughterofashepherd. This is really a highlight in my knitting career and I had also the possibility to show the sweater to the yarnmaker Rachel at H&H in Cologne at end of March.
    Thank you so much for all your interesting letters and inspirations/Anja

    • Test-knitters are the rock-solid heroes of the knitting design world. It’s such a nice thing to do for a designer.

      • totally agree ! The test is my favorite part of the process because the things we share are so special. And test knitters are kind enough to endure all my careless mistakes 😉

    • Anja, I loved working with you on this pattern! Thank you so much 😉

  • Sing it, sisters! Thanks for all the support you show for yarns, designers, tech editors and associated folks.

    • You said it!

  • I completely agree, and I find myself buying patterns I like a lot, simply to encourage the designer to keep going. Not only do I live in a state of SABLE, I have no hopes of even casting on all of my huge library of patterns. (Anyone out there come up with another clever acronym to describe that?)

    • What is a state of SABLE?

      • STash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

      • SABLE means Stash Aquisition Beyond Life Expectancy…so lots of yarn!!!!

        • Ooooh. I think I am there….

    • I do that too.

    • How about PLEAT? Pattern Library Exceeds Available Time…

      • Excellent! I have never seen that one. I have a little too much yarn, but way more favorite patterns and actual owned patterns than I could ever make.

      • LOVE IT.

        • I exist in both of those states, yet I still buy patterns and more yarn.

      • This is perfection – thank you for describing my collection!

  • I loved this for 2017 and again in 2018 and I know it was quite a bit of work to put together, so thank you! I wish there were a way to track completed projects and ratings between the start of the playoff to the winner. (Lots more work, I know!) But it would be interesting to support those designers with income as votes.

    • It would be wonderful to know the impact, for sure. Maybe the Washington Post will take it on. (We can hope!)

    • Amazing!

  • Ann and Kay, Thank you both for opening the knitting world even idea to all of us eager knitters. I LOVE March Mayhem – new designers all up and down the bracket, new to me at least, new construction ideas, new yarns, new hand dyers. Before I cast my vote for best pattern of the year, I read about each of the 4 finalists on Ravelry and found even more fab patterns. And iI discovered that 2 of the 4 finalists had been interviewed on Fruity Knitting. This just has to be the golden age of knitting and knitwear designing!

  • I loved the March Madness Voting. I had already purchased Humulus and was 3/4 finished with Big Sister when I saw the first rounds come out! Now I can’t wait to finish them both and to keep my eye on your site for new patterns! Thank you! Jani

  • I confess I often buy patterns just so I can see how something has been constructed. I rationalize this practice by telling myself I’m supporting independent designers. Thanks for backing me up on this.

    • Me too! It’s one more way to learn something new.

  • Thank you for this entertaining and informative event. I looked at all 64 patterns and while I haven’t (yet) purchased any I have the list to add to my favorites.
    Two years ago I found the Ravelry group Indie Designer Gift-Along. Last year I got better at searching the selection of offerings. I had a list of 100 possibles that I got down to a reasonable half dozen or so purchases. Now I have 2 designer showcases to drool over. Like the wishbooks of my childhood at Christmas.

  • I echo the comments of everyone here. I love March Mayhem and am already looking forward to next year’s. I appreciate your creativity, your taste and your ability to execute, to bring this special event to all of us knitters. You two are my heroes. This year I especially loved the mini-skeins category. Even though it didn’t make it out of the first round, Dionisio Point is exactly what I need for a yarn club set I received recently. And about buying the patterns—I’m grateful my budget allows for my knitting addiction and for me to buy patterns at will. I have a rule with March Mayhem that I buy the pattern for the final four whether I’ll ever make them or not. And I definitely buy the patterns for MY final four, as well as other patterns as inspired. Thanks again. You two and the brackets are brilliant.

    • Your rules are excellent, Melanie.

      Having knit Dionisio Point, I give it a huge endorsement. Very fun and a great FO.

  • Thanks the joys of voting and seeing some patterns I missed and introducing me to some other designers. I too like free patterns, but when it comes down to knitting something, well I want it to be the closest to what I want or something that inspires me. Maybe you think, I could just knit that. But to me when buying a pattern it probably saved you at least one frustrating moment. That alone paid for the pattern. And you might learn how to do something different or watch something magical happen. That is why I knit–to learn more and find the magic.

  • Right up until this morning, I was of the “the only good pattern is a free pattern” school of thought. But no more! I’m careful with copyright issues when it comes to books or music, so why not support knitwear designers the same way I support writers and composers? (And besides, there will be so many more patterns to choose from!) Kay and Ann, you’ve been my heroes ever since I started reading this blog LONG AGO; I so appreciate the way you consistently do the right thing. Thank you!

  • Gotta say that even before Ravelry, knotty.com opened my world and my mind.

  • I agree with so many of the comments so I don’t want to repeat. But was there a bracket for First Time Designers? To support designers who took the step and published their very first ever design?

    • What a fantastic idea!

  • Maybe do a post where you ask for the “hidden gems” the criteria might be why hasn’t anyone noticed this design. Everyone could throw out a design, designer or website with designs.

  • I had already purchased 3 or 4 of the patterns that were part of March Madness and will now buy a couple more. When I see a pattern I love, I purchase it even though I may have a dozen already in my queue and have no idea when I might get to it. Just having them and reading through them, makes me more knit-smart.

  • Absolutely agree with your arguments for buying patterns and supporting indie designers. And without Ravelry this wouldn’t be possible. I’ve been knitting for about ten years, learning much of it the hard way. I started with patterns in magazines, which I now usually treat as suggestions. Now I work almost entirely from independent patterns (when I use a pattern). These patterns offfer details and techniques not presented in the magazines and often have couture touches and finishes that really enhance the final product. I will often buy a pattern I’m not necessarily going to knit simply to obtain this information. Thanks to the Ravelry library and Good Reader, this resource is always available to me.

  • I love that you support fledgling designers. I will sometime but a pattern because I want someone to succeed even though I may not make it this year. I am happy people look beyond the “free” pattern because after taking Francoise Danoy’s initiate design challenge I now realize how much time, effort and knowledge goes into each design. For the price of a cup of coffee I can help an artist’s dream of earning a living doing something they live become a reality. I know some designers, Ann McDonald Kellyand Emily Connelly who work at my LYS and see first hand the love they put into each design. I looked at your bracket and broadened my exposure into knitting genres I have not focused on in the past. It might be fun to have a World Series for the other categories such as socks/hats/baby etc that did not make the March Madness bracket. That way we can have fun twice a year

    • Wow, a pattern for the cost of a coffee. I love that perspective! I just wish I was a faster knitter!

  • Thank you Ladies for all the time and effort y’all put into this fun and supportive event. I had a blast. ♥️♥️♥️ I really appreciate the mission behind March Madness. And…I have definitely increased my list of things I’d like to make. Cheers!!!

  • My favorite March Mayhem moment — my sister and I were visiting my mom, knitting away, lamenting that our very favorite design was already out of the competition. All of a sudden I asked her which design was her favorite, and she said “Tailfeather.” I began yelling that was my favorite as well, the dogs started barking, and actual mayhem ensued.

    Thanks Kay and Ann for all your hard work putting together the bracket. I bought some lovely Mohonk in the shop to make Tailfeather.

    • Tailfeather was a heartbreaker. Such a funny story! So glad you are making it!

      It reminds me of a time, long ago, that Peter and I had bet the exacta on a horserace at Saratoga. We needed Buttercream to win. Buttercream was very far behind, and then, in the literal homestretch, the announcer intoned:

      H E R E C O M E S B U T T E R CREAM!!!!!

      And we went absolutely nuts, won the bet, and forever after said “Here comes Buttercream” in moments of giddy joy. TAILFEATHER!

  • Dear Kay,

    I have tried very hard not to “lecture” as is my tendency so here goes: Good on you (as they say these days) for speaking up for easy-to-exploit knitwear designers. I have often cringed at the words of people who pride themselves on Only knitting from free patterns. So-o… stingy and exploitative. But both free and paid, it seems to me that there is room for everything here. People who gave out highly successful patterns for free have become household names in the knitting world (thanks in large part to Knitty and Ravelry), and can now charge a decent price for their patterns and e-books. Sort of like a volunteer who is able to segue into a decently paying career. So it’s sort of a balance. But always needs vigilance to retain and/or improve that balance. Thanks for have created a very visible platform to help raise that awareness, so similar to the issues of all creative professionals. (Hope that came out alright, I whittled away a lot.) Chloe

    • 100% agree with you.

    • Good point! The first sweater that I knit by this year’s winner, Isabell Kramer, was Karamel, and it was free. It wasn’t the last, but it was a good introduction. I love the idea of featuring first time designers because it’s so hard to get started and it’s so much fun to discover someone new. Or maybe a book bracket, because books are an even harder well than single patterns (there could be technique, infants and children, toys, knitting related-non pattern, etc.) There have been several phenomenal books in the past year, and surely there are more to follow.

      Thank you both for the hard work, and the huge impact you have on the craft,as well as on my own personal project choices. It is not taken for granted. Nor is the fact that there is a post Every Single Day! Its always a bright spot.

  • Thank you for another great March Madness! It was spectacular for all the reasons already mentioned. Loved the bracket design this year with photos and descriptions built right in. In the beginning I would also open the Fun section of the site in a new tab, and I could scroll through your posts for each category. Saved a lot of back-and-forth to Ravelry.

    Kudos to you all for your hard work and top-notch brains!

    • I hope you know we are very susceptible to flattery via Hamilton lyrics! Thank you, Annie!

      • Hee hee – caught that one didja?

  • Thank you for a fun contest! I discovered a great new sweater pattern in Humulus. Thank you for giving these designers a place to shine!

  • I’ve never seen this site before. Lovely! Hope to follow it!!

  • I loved the mini-skein bracket (and added a pattern to my queue). As a non-sweater knitter, I didn’t enjoy having 2 sweater brackets.

    Personally I’d love up see a bracket that highlights single skein patterns. We all have those random “must haves” in our stashes and it can be a challenge to find great and unique patterns for them.

  • I am so definitely a PLEAT, especially after last years March mayhem. But they are sliding back in the queue since I have cast on Dohne and Fern and Feather!! Love March Mayhem, thank you Ann and Kay for the work you put into this wonderful site. And thank goodness for Ravelry!

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